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U.S. Explanation of Position on HRC Resolution on Cultural Diversity / Cultural Rights
March 23, 2017

Promotion of the Enjoyment of the Cultural Rights of Everyone and Respect for Cultural Diversity


Explanation of Position by the United States of America,
As Delivered by William J. Mozdzierz,
Head of the U.S. Delegation

Human Rights Council, 34th Session
Geneva, March 23, 2017

The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution.  We support the promotion of cultural diversity, pluralism, tolerance, cooperation, and dialogue among people from all cultures.  Respect for cultural diversity has figured prominently in our own country’s history.  Cultural diversity has reinforced human rights by contributing to the development of legal protections for minority group members.

We also wish to clarify certain understandings with which we are joining consensus on this resolution.  We are concerned that the concept of cultural diversity, particularly when articulated in a human rights context, could be misused.  Efforts to promote cultural diversity should not be invoked to undermine or limit the scope of human rights, to legitimize human rights abuses, or to infringe on individuals’ enjoyment of their human rights.  Instead, cultural diversity and international human rights can be mutually reinforcing concepts to improve the situation for all.

Certain cultural rights are set forth in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in other human rights instruments.  Notably, in addition to the right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits referenced in the resolution, there is a right to the protection of the moral and material interest resulting from any scientific, literary, or artistic production.  Intellectual property rights reflect that latter right, and must be respected.

We appreciate the work of the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, including the Special Rapporteur’s focus on civil society.  We do not agree with several of the conclusions and recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s January 2017 report, however.

Thank you, Mr. President.